KBIS Takeaways: ‘Consumers and builders truly have more choices than ever!’by Rachel Gilbert and Scott Arneson
The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) is the largest tradeshow event in the U.S., dedicated to anything and everything in kitchen and bath design. This year, exhibitors from the International Builders Show (IBS) joined ranks with KBIS exhibitors in Las Vegas to create the ultimate destination to network, grow business, and exchange new ideas. Let’s hear from Scott on some key KBIS takeaways.
Q: What are one or two ideas about this industry that retailers should be prepared for? How should they go about this?
A: Online sales are growing, but most companies I spoke with are still working on increasing and perfecting their brick-and-mortar presence. In some cases, this means striving for the proper brand or product placement in big box retailers. But in other cases, it means having the right distributors in place and gaining key placement inside independent retailers. Whether big box or specialty retail, all agreed that with such unique products and innovation hitting the markets, a story must be told. Having local representation to help educate consumers and associates alike is critical.
A: The economy is good right now. The major appliance companies were back in full force at the show! Even with the freight costs increasing, tariffs looming, and price increases in several areas, the overall feeling was that the building industry was strong, and the economy should stay the course. Simply based on the attendance at this year’s KBIS/IBS show, it certainly seemed that these types of businesses will continue to strengthen over the year.
Q: What themes did you notice throughout the show?
A: Making life easier was a general theme, but this takes on many different faces. Smart-home products were a clear favorite as they are influencing every part of our lives. Companies with these products are working with builders in the early stages to properly place such devices into their clients’ homes. Ultimately, the energy savings and convenience of these features will allow the builders to more than recoup additional investment.
A: With the economy being strong, more money being earned, and folks staying in their houses longer, people are looking at new ways of upgrading. The opportunity to upgrade to a variety of smart products is entirely possible. For example, LiftMaster showed a garage door opener that allowed Amazon prime members to send a code to their door for drivers to leave packages. Also, both Moen and Kohler launched showers that are smart hub compatible, allowing you to turn the shower on and have it reach your desired temperature before stepping in. On another note, many of your traditional premium appliances and kitchen fixtures are launching products that are more mainstream in cost, giving folks the opportunity to have the deluxe look without paying premium prices. LG also went deluxe by giving us another awesome feature in their Signature Kitchen Suite line. They’ve integrated Innit meal solutions into this new line of products, allowing home cooks to use the cooking programs to automatically control cooking modes and over temperatures through an app. All of these areas will help generate incremental new sales and certainly help drive economic growth.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from KBIS/IBS this year?
A: Consumers and builders truly have more choices than ever. If a company is not bringing new innovation, new designs, and new ideas to the market then they won’t be able to compete long term. Companies like WilsonArt have taken this head-on with their acrylic backsplashes, which have unique designs and are incredibly easy to wipe down. Another place I noticed this type of creative innovation was with Electrolux. They’ve added an air fry setting on select ranges, which is specifically programmed to provide excellent results using one tool, instead of having to purchase separate kitchen products. Though these are just a couple of examples, they are very indicative of what we can expect to see throughout the year.
Things to remember:
- Neither online shopping nor brick-and-mortar shopping is going anywhere. A company’s success depends upon a mastery of both.
- Companies in this industry are sincerely trying to make your life easier with new smart-home and building products. Give them a chance!
- If you are scouring the internet for new, innovative pieces for a home renovation, look towards LG, Moen, Kohler, Electrolux, and those of the like for the most updated designs and best user functionality.